Once in awhile, as a now full-time novelist, I think it would be helpful to share myths about writing as I discover them. I have a slew already, but I don’t want to overwhelm or bore anyone, so I will start with a few of my favorites:
1) Only write about what you know. Really? I hope that Stephen King and James Patterson break this rule regularly. Don’t write about serial killing, torture or horror unless you’ve done it? Space travel? Vampires, werewolves, pretty much any science fiction would be off the table. In fact, no matter how simple your topic, it will include things you don’t know. For instance, I have female characters in my stories, and what man on Earth REALLY understands how women think?
2) You need to have an MFA and be an excellent literary writer. I have made a point to read a lot of excellent authors, and I can tell you, some of the classics are pretty dense reading. Just because you have elegant prose and punctuation does not make your characters or your stories interesting. I would rather read pulp fiction comic books that are fun than sit through War and Peace, Jane Eyre or Moby Dick again. Don’t get me wrong, those are three great writers, but the books are bit tough going, admit it. Also, with respect to education, a famous author once said he was glad he did not go to literary school. He would have been compared to Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, all the best of all time. Other kids in the class would have been smarter than him and done better, he would have quivered in shame and quit. Instead, he went on to sell millions of great books.
3) Popular authors are sell outs and lousy writers. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard and unpublished author criticize Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling, I would still not have as much money as either of those two authors. The fact is, hundreds of millions of people love their books and have enjoyed reading them and seeing their movie adaptations. I consider that excellent writing. Even if they never used a word over four letters long and got the punctuation wrong, it would still be great writing. Isn’t pleasing the reader the ultimate goal? I would love to write something the unpublished call drivel if it pleases millions of readers.
4) E-books are not the same as “real” books. My books are in both formats, and most of the short stories I have had published are also in both formats. Oddly enough, all the words are exactly the same! Amazing! I admit that I prefer to hold a printed book in my hand, smell the pages (I know many of us do that, I just admit it), feel the turn of the page. I love to read. I also read on my android through Kindle, and it is a less comfortable read for me. But in a generation, kids will laugh and mock us, “You mean you used to carry a stack of heavy books back and forth to school? You used to fall asleep with a ten pound hard back over your face?” “You carried one book at a time?” They are going to have something a few ounces in weight with a whole library on it they can slip in their back pocket. So who will feel stupid then? Are we really arguing the horse and buggy will outlive the automobile, that men weren’t meant to fly?
Feel free to comment with your favorite myths about writing.